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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. Bouncing off the dark green mesquite, they rainbowed the coarse sand grains eplstolario the northern desert.
The life- saving milk of the spiny cactus, chilled by the desert’s night winds, grew warm. Undaunted by the forbidding sheerness of the awe-inspiring gray cliffs, the dawnlight lit their mineraled cracks. Jyarez thus penetrated the outer defenses, the lights rippled over the mountains into the sleeping valleys of the mid-plateau. They surprised bwnito plodding Indian on his way to work amid the tasseled corn and dried the dew in the thick, deep grass.
Slipping under the dense foliage, wakening the budding orchids, they climbed higher, their task completed. The silky corn betokened a bountiful harvest, and the tolling mission bells a sentiment of peace. But events in Mexico in U were belying the promise of the day.
The plodding Indian cultivated a field not his own and starved in the midst of abundance. In the capital the redoubtable Santa Anna had declared for a strict centralist government 2 and was seriously considering the establishment of a monarchy with himself as king.
This move on the part of Mexico’ s most versatile turncoat aroused strenuous opposition. Juan Alvarez, an ardent federalist, rose in rebellion in the state of Guerrero in a raovement which later became a revolution to end all revolutions and an attempt to introduce a new societal base in the land of Montezuma. But waitJ This is getting ahead of the narrative which really begins centuries earlier.
By I65ti Mexico had been independent exactly twenty-three epistolatio. During that time her several presidents had raced in and out of office with the agility of the legendary Atalanta.
The real story was much older. It stretched back three centuries into the closed shadowy past to the time when Huitzilopochtli was propitiated by blood sacrifice and the Virgin of Guadalupe was unknown in the land of the feathered serpent.
Analysis began with a legend, the legend of Quetzalcoatl, the benign god who sprang from the earth to bring the blessings of civilization to the Mexican people. For many years he stayed among them, teaching them count- less things. Under his guidance the Indians learned to grow the golden corn that became the staple food of the country and to ferment the sweet honey liquid of the maguey epistoladio. They developed the art of pottery and lived in harmony with each other.
But Quetzalcoatl’ s beneficent rule was soon interrupted. Another contested his authority and displaced him in the loyalty of his people. Saddened by this turn of events, Quetzalcoatl bade farewell to his now repentant people and sailed into the rising sun. But he had not forsaken then forever said the legend. Quetzalcoatl would one day reappear from the East to rule once more his virgin land. And over the ages a complex, communal civilis- ation emerged, derived from the simple arts imparted by Quetsalcoatl.
In this civilisation had reached an apogee of power. Centered in the Venetian-like city of Tenochtitlan high in the plateau valleys, this culture, known as the Aztec, radiated over the whole of central Mexico. Its ruler, Montezuma II, reigned in sumptuous splendor in the midst of a temple-crowded city.
The temples were devoted to the horrendous god of war Huitzilopoehtli and bespotted by the blood of human sacrifice. In the provinces tribute was exacted from the conquered tribes. Outwardly nothing seemed to threaten the Empire. But in fact — Strange reports of white-winged vessels in the eastern waters came trickling in from the outer seacoast provinces.
These apparitions flew over the sea without any apparent propelling power, emerging from, and retreating into, the morning sun. Already, reported the messengers, the superstitious masses once more bruited about the legend of Quetzalcoatl.
Epistolario de Benito Juarez
Was it not the time for the noble high priest and representative of Huitzilopoehtli, the illustrious Montezuma, to attend to this matter? The messengers were right. As the official representative of Huitzilopoehtli, Montezuma epistolaario that the potential homecoming of the feathered jarez posed a threat to his throne.
Two powerful gods could not hold sway in Mexico at the same time. He did do something to be sure, but that something was solely a negative action. Ke waited and worried.
Toward the end of the eerie white-winged birds glided again onto the Mexican horizon. But this time they did not flit away as before. They stayed to disgorge tall stalwart llght-skir-ned men with hair the color of h the ripened corn and four-legged monsters that could, perhaps, outdistance the wind. The leader, relayed the messengers, called himself Cortes, but that most probably was only a pseudonym. Had not the legend whispered of Juetzalcoatl’s flaxen hair and fair skin?
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This Cortes wooed the tribes on the coast, enticing them to his banner. Rumors depicted him as invincible in battle, and, had he not whipped the Tlascalans? Montezuma hesitated, and Cortes marched inland. Montezuma sent presents, but this only whetted the appetites of the Spaniards for the fabled Aztec gold.
In they triumphantly entered the Indian capital, and a little more than a year later, despite various reverses, the flaxen-haired “gods’ 1 had conquered the vacillating ruler. After the subjugation of the hub, the victorious band fanned out into the barrenness of the sparsely populated North, into the deep tree-lined gorges of the tleat, and into the steaming heat of the overgrown South.
The subjection of this vast area speedily introduced problems of transportation and administration. And, it was the loi: Cortes conquered the Mexican empire with a relatively small nucleus of bold, daring Castilians.
These men joined his expedition for many reasons. Some sought adventure, grasping eagerly at the proposed campaign as a means of escaping the unrelieved boredom of colonial life in the Antilles. The call of gold lured others. They followed the golden promise in the setting sun. Some came for the Cross, the unequivocal, controver- sial standard of ardently Catholic Spain. These toe saw promise in the sinking sun, but a promise that forecast treasure in heaven and not gold upon earth.
With the campaign’s success all the conflicting ambitions 5 clamored for reward. After all, hardship deserved some recompense. Cortes and the; Spanish monarchs responded. The adventurers received vast tracts of land and the title of hidalgo.
The gold-seekers secured extraction rights for the rich veins of gold and silver hidden in the Mexican mountains. The followers of the Cross acquired the privilege and duty of instructing the heathen in the ways of truth. Theoretically this subdivision of labor presented the possibility of a viable, balanced economy. The cultivation of the rich green valleys would provide enough food for the population, and the development of mineral resources an exchangeable source of wealth.
The Roman Catholic Church would unite the Indians to the Crown via the Cross or vice versa by promoting both a supernatural and a natural loyalty. In practice this idyllic picture exhibited two basic flaws that permanently warped the economic and societal base in Mexico. The first flaw emerged from forces extraneous to the Mexican scene and swept across the whole of Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries.
This flaw was the theory of mercantilism.
According to this theory a conquered territory existed for the profit of the victorious nation-state. As this juagez also placed an inordinate emphasis on the possession of gold bullion as evidence of a nation’s prosperity, Mexico’s apparently inexhaustable mineral resources became a liability rather than an asset during the colonial period. Ship after ship weighed anchor in the ports of Vera Crua and Acapulco bound for epiwtolario Antilles, the Azores, Seville, the Philippines, and the rich spice islands in the Moluccas.
Spain received everything, Mexico almost nothing. To be sure a few Mexican Creole merchants sneculated their way to fortune and fame, but the mass of the people benefited not at all from their land’s mountains of gold. They remained poor and isolated on their land. Surely the wealthy, fertile earth of Mexico could feed its people. The silky tasseled corn stalks still rustled when the wind whipped benuto from the high peaks and skimmed across the lowlands.
The land gave and sustained life — bdnito had revealed the gods of old. The gods gave life, but men also had a hand in sustaining it. And here lay the second flaw in the Mexican scene. The vast acreages or encomiendasgiven to the conquistadors by the Spanish kings precluded cultivation by one man or one family alone.
Epostolario few Spaniards in the country regarded themselves as gentlemen. Menial labor lay beneath their dignity.
Jorge L. Tamayo (Selections of Epistolario de Benito Juarez)
Obviously an independent source of labor was needed. This the Indians supplied. But the subjected Indian population did not furnish this labor in accord with their dignity as free men, but only as menials, almost as serfs, in a system that bound them relentlessly to the land that they tilled for their Spanish masters. Mexican society jiarez based on a principle of subservience.
When the Spanish monarchs granted the encomiendasthe colonists immediately recognized the need for cheap labor and petitioned the Crown for the services of the Indians.
This the Crown epistolairo with some reluctance and with numerous qualifications designed to safeguard the welfare of the native population. The Indians, declared the Crown, were not to be regarded as slaves. The inviolability of their families was to be preserved. The Indians could remain in their villages, grow their own 7 crops, and pursue their own interests after fulfilling their duties to the encomenderos.
Unfortunately these decrees speedily came to be more honored in the breach than in the observance.